Before Todd Haynes’ Velvet Underground documentary premieres in October, fans of the seminal ’60s group will be able to get a head start on getting in the mood with the September release of a tribute album that was a labor of love for another super-fan, the late producer Hal Willner.
“I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground and Nico” will be released Sept. 24. As the title would indicate, it’s a track-by-track remake of the group’s 1967 debut album, which featured Nico prominently band in the billing. The salute was conceived and executive produced by Willner, who died in April 2020, and who started putting the album together in 2017. I’s the second posthumously released tribute album of Willner’s, following his T. Rex salute last year, and is said to be the last thing the renowned producer worked on.
A leadoff track, “Run Run Run” by Kurt Vile & the Violators, was released today. The September release will include tracks recorded by Michael Stipe, St. Vincent & Thomas Bartlett, Matt Berninger, Sharon Van Etten with Angel Olsen, Iggy Pop & Matt Sweeney, Andrew Bird & Lucius, Thurston Moore, Courtney Barnett, Bobby Gillespie, King Princess and Fontaines D.C.
“The VU are a fundamental part of Verve’s history, and their fearless approach and musical integrity continue to inspire all of us at the label,” Jamie Krents, head of Verve Records, said in a statement. “We were so lucky to partner with the late Hal Willner to pay tribute to the band’s iconic first album. It’s an absolute honor to have every one of these artists on a Verve recording and we hope this album finds a welcome place in the record collections of VU fans new and old.”
Vile recently signed with Verve, the Velvet Underground’s label back in the day. “I literally covered ‘Run Run Run’ when I was a kid,” Vile said in a statement accompanying the release of the new track and video. “In my late teens with my band at the time. So it was pretty cosmic, let’s say. There is a direct connection to certain indie bands and beyond with the Velvets. That’s why the Velvets are a classic. You know it can have doo-wop in there and things like that, but it can also have this jagged noisy thing, and it immediately let me feel like I could do anything. The possibilities are endless. You’re completely free. Unapologetic and effortless.”